University of Notre Dame students gathered on campus Wednesday (Dec. 7) to celebrate Las Posadas, a Latin American tradition. The event, organized by Campus Ministry, included a procession through campus, prayer, singing and traditional foods.
Las Posadas, which translates to “the inns,” is a novenario or extended devotional prayer celebrated each year between Dec. 16 and 24 in Latin America and by Hispanics in the United States. The nine-day celebration during the Advent season commemorates the journey of Mary and Joseph from Nazareth to Bethlehem in search of a safe refuge where Mary could give birth. A procession led by two people dressed as Mary and Joseph stops at houses designated as inns. The group travels to one house each night for nine nights. At each house, the procession is welcomed and the group sings traditional songs or Christmas carols and children break open star-shaped piñatas. The final stop for the procession is often a church.
Diana Salgado Huicochea, assistant director of outreach at Campus Ministry, organized this year’s Las Posadas celebration. “I’ve participated in Las Posadas in Mexico and the United States, but this was my first time organizing it on campus, so it was a whole new experience,” she said. “There was a great turnout and as we were doing the procession more people joined, so we had such a good crowd.”
As the students walked through campus, they stopped at designated residence halls to knock. “After each stop, we had a student read a Gospel passage, followed by a piece from liberation theology or Catholic social teaching. Our hope was that the Scripture readings and reflections would aid participants’ understanding of Mary and Joseph’s journey as the journey of our neighbors, immigrants, the marginalized and the poor,” Salgado Huicochea said.
The group, guided by candlelight, sang traditional hymns between each stop.
“At the final stop, Mary and Joseph were recognized and we were let in to share a meal and pray together,” she said.
Salgado Huicochea said the event was special for students who have celebrated Las Posadas at home. “Students are really grateful because it brings part of their home here to Notre Dame, which is very comforting for them. This is something they grew up doing, so it gives them a sense of comfort and belonging, which I think is so beautiful.”
In celebrating the Holy Family’s journey, Salgado Huicochea said, the event is a good reminder that many people have a travel narrative. “I know many people have had experiences with immigration. So it’s also special remembering that Mary and Joseph were also immigrants trying to find their way.”